'I am your daughter. I am not giving up.'

Namrata Agarwal, March 2012
Cervical spondylosis hit me when I was a keen student, pursuing not one but two academic courses and studying rigorously. It began with pain in the neck and in the upper part of the spine when I would bend. I would rest and it would pass away. As yet undiagnosed, my condition became worse since I was studying 12 to 14 hours everyday.

A week before the entrance examination to the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) course, the pain peaked. An orthopaedist told me I had a severe case; he recommended up to a dozen sessions of physiotherapy and prescribed pain killers. They did not work: Hardly would I have studied for 15 minutes when the debilitating pain would force me to lie down. I consulted the doctor again: He waived aside my physiotherapy sessions till after the exams and told me to take only the pain killers.

I was scared. The CFA entrance is a one-day exam that has two papers; each lasts three hours and there is a two-hour break between the two. It was to take place on a Sunday, at a centre an hour away from my home. I had jal prasad before going for the paper and left everything to Guruji.

As I entered the examination centre, I prayed to Guruji to give me strength. I was pleasantly surprised: All through the first paper there was no pain. As the interval eased in, I thanked Guruji and went to our car parked a kilometre away. I returned in pain. As I took my seat, I felt extreme discomfort around the base of the neck. A few minutes later the OMR sheet, which had to be filled up with personal details, was in my hand. In agony, I could do nothing but stare at it. My hands were trembling with pain; I debated my decision: should I proceed or not? It was not a matter of a few minutes but of three hours. I would not be able to bear the pain; I should quit. Yet if I did so, the next attempt was a year away. That was a huge loss of time. What if I continued, and the pain got worse?

I closed my eyes and prayed. I told Guruji: I don't want to lose this attempt; I just need your strength. I don't care about passing or failing now, but at least help me to make the attempt. I am your daughter; I am not going to give up.

I began my paper with a recitation of the mantra jaap. The paper consisted of case studies, which could run up to three pages, followed by questions. My senses and my mind, however, were so benumbed with pain that I was not able to understand what was written. A simple introductory sentence to a case study-typically beginning with the person managing a firm-was beyond my immediate understanding, though it would have been plain for a 12-year-old. I recited the mantra jaap again and re-read the text, but comprehension did not follow. I did the jaap again and then read the text. . . I persevered with the process. As time flew by, I was able to answer. After an hour, there was no pain. It was gone; Guruji had taken it away.

He ensured that I completed my paper, too. I was lagging behind, but surprisingly I completed the paper 20 minutes before time and revise it. It seemed as though Guruji had paused time so that I could complete the paper! In contrast, my healthy friends found the paper lengthy and couldn't complete it. Such is Guruji's mahima; it is beyond our imagination: What medical science believed would have taken a dozen physiotherapy sessions to deal with, Guruji had healed in an hour. Such is His love and kindness. He was with me all through that time and gave me strength when I needed it the most. I love you, Guruji, for everything.

Namrata Agarwal, a devotee

March 2012